US ambassador said ZANU-PF was suspicious of US motives

United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Joseph Sullivan said most of the members of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front were suspicious of the US government motives and kept their distance from the Americans out of concern for “political correctness” in their “insecure liberation party”.

Sullivan made this observation soon after ZANU-PF’s deputy director for external relations Itai Mach complained to the embassy about a travel advisory notice that had been issued by the United States government warning people not to travel to Zimbabwe.

Mach asked whether a party delegation could be allowed to travel to Washington to give the party’s side of the story.

 

Full cable:

 

Viewing cable 04HARARE171, RULING PARTY PROTESTS TRAVEL ADVISORY, RAISES

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

04HARARE171

2004-01-29 09:36

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L HARARE 000171

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR SDELISI, LAROIAN, MRAYNOR

AF/PD FOR DFOLEY, CDALTON

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR JFRAZER, DTEITELBAUM

LONDON FOR CGURNEY

PARIS FOR CNEARY

NAIROBI FOR TPFLAUMER

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/28/2009

TAGS: PREL CASC PGOV ZI

SUBJECT: RULING PARTY PROTESTS TRAVEL ADVISORY, RAISES

POSSIBLE DC VISIT

 

REF: (A) STATE 15219 (B) 03 HARARE 2236

 

Classified By: Political Officer Win Dayton under Section 1.5(b)(d)

 

1. (C) Deputy Director of ZANU-PF's Bureau of External

Relations Itai Mach called poloff on January 27 to protest

the text of the travel advisory issued by the Department on

January 22 (ref A). He charged that it was a politically

motivated effort to disrupt Zimbabwe's "recovering" economy

with a view to discrediting the ruling party. International

media had seized on the advisory to damage Zimbabwe's

international image for purposes of tourism and investment.

He asserted that the country's security situation was

improving and that the government was attaching priority to

fostering a favorable atmosphere for tourism and investment.

Poloff explained the apolitical purpose of travel advisories

generally, highlighted the indisputable facts in the

advisory, and noted that the advisory was essentially

identical to one issued in January 2003.

 

2. (C) Mach then renewed his inquiry about the possibility

of a ZANU-PF delegation visiting Washington to engage with

the USG, members of the Congress, and others interested in

Zimbabwe. He did not elaborate on details of the party's

intended activities or message other than to convey the

party's "side of the story." He asked if waivers would be

granted to party members who were subject to travel

restrictions but did not name the members wishing to travel.

 

3. (C) COMMENT: After CNN's treatment of the travel

advisory as news, government and independent papers alike

played the advisory up here to considerable interest among

the public and diplomatic community. For their part,

government papers generally parrotted Mach's analysis and,

weaving in mischaracterizations of Morgan Tsvangirai's

treason trial testimony as evidence of CIA involvement in a

coup plot, lately have increasingly projected a USG bent on

regime change. We view the portrayal more as coincident

opportunistic propaganda driven by Information Minister

Jonathan Moyo than a concerted effort to alienate the USG

further. Nonetheless, suspicions about USG motives remain

deep among many ruling party members, and most continue to

keep their distance from Americans out of concern for

"political correctness" in their insecure liberation party.

 

4. (C) COMMENT (CONT'D): Mach's approach follows an initial

more tentative inquiry last month (ref B). The effort

probably reflects more interest in manufacturing trappings of

legitimacy for the ruling party than in moving toward

resolution of the country's political crisis. There have

been signs that the party is interested in rehabilitating its

international image -- vocal support among prominent party

members for RBZ Chairman Gono's interest in reengaging the

IFIs, for example. While we doubt the depth of this

interest, we hope to use it in this instance to provoke a

more substantive effort on the ruling party's part.

Accordingly, we propose to pour cold water on Mach's inquiry

with a vague response -- reiterating our seriousness about

the travel restrictions and noting the existence of a waiver

process without indicating that waivers would be granted in

this case. While deflecting the visa issue, we would

reiterate our interest in facilitating resolution of

Zimbabwe's political crisis but emphasize that meaningful

actions by the ruling party indicating its seriousness on

that front would enhance prospects for any meaningful

dialogue involving the USG. Poloff is scheduled to meet Mach

on February 2.

SUL

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